16/9/07 – Which Rite is Right?

Our Church is currently in a period of great dialogue about the celebration of its liturgy. Last weekend, I referred to the impending revisions of the Order of Mass and, more specifically, the new Australian edition of the General Instruction of the Roman Missal, which will result in some small changes to how we celebrate Mass when it’s implemented in the coming months.

As we take new steps forward in our celebration of liturgy, we are also well aware there are people who lament the loss of a liturgical tradition which was the core of their faith and their upbringing. Some, for various reasons, have called for the right to continue to use the missal that was in use before the Second Vatican Council, namely the Missal of Pope John XXIII (1962). This missal was a revised edition of the earlier Missal of Pope Pius V.

You may have heard that Pope Benedict XVI has released a letter moto proprio (on one’s own initiative) addressing this matter, giving advice and guidance to bishops, in whose care the liturgical life of their dioceses is placed. If you wish to learn more, I strongly recommend you read Bishop Manning’s letter in this month’s Catholic Outlook.

In addressing the matter, however, the Pope makes a very important point. We must be careful to distinguish the cause of any disappointment in the liturgical life of the Church since Vatican II. Often poor worship has not been the result of the reformed liturgy itself, but the result of unsuccessful (or sometimes even misguided) attempts to implement the reforms set down by the Church. The liturgical reform continues to this day; hence why we are continuing to revise the liturgical books.

In the meantime, let’s make an effort to understand the reforms the Second Vatican Council did (and did not) put into place. Over coming weeks, we will address a series of liturgical myths, revealing some common things that are often “not done anymore” as a result of a personal choice, rather than a directive from the official liturgical documents. Perhaps you may have a question relating to the celebration of liturgy. Post a comment here and we’ll try our best to answer it for you (and everyone else!).

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